eXtensions - Sunday 3 November 2016

An A to Z of System Preferences in macOS Sierra

apple and chopsticks


By Graham K. Rogers

System Preferences

System Preferences have been used since OS X first appeared and provide a number of ways in which to control the way the operating system displays information and interacts with applications or with other parts of the operating system. With the latest iteration to macOS, Sierra, there have been some additions and changes, particularly in the Accessibility panel where much work has taken place. There is one new preference: Siri.

The system Preferences panel itself has seen little change. The toolbar at the top has Back and Forward arrows to the right of the red and yellow Finder controls (the green available in most applications is greyed out). To the right of the arrows there is a Show All button. A Search box is available to the right.

Certain technologies installed only become active when specific devices are attached. For example the handwriting recognition software called Ink, is designed to work with attached graphics tablets. I have omitted this. I have also excluded panes for third party technologies, such as Flash. These may be unique to a user's setup. I have, however, included a CDs & DVDs article, even though my Macs do not have a disk drive and the panel does not show the icon: the older machines still in use make this relevant for some.

System Preferences
System Preferences - Organized by Categories

Preferences are displayed by default in four categories. These used to be marked as Personal, Hardware, Internet & Wireless and System. The headings disappeared in OS X 10.9, Mavericks, but they are organized in the same way. The sections are shown in alternate lines with slightly darker and lighter coloring. I prefer the Alphabetical display that is possible using the View menu.

System Preferences
System Preferences - Organized Alphabetically

Note also that using the View menu, it is possible to create a panel that shows only specific preferences. This may be useful in certain multi-user setups (although separate user accounts could also help here).

System Preferences
System Preferences - Customizing

The full list of preferences is shown below with a link to the article on each. Note that because of the additions, changes and increased complexity of Accessibility, I wrote this in three separate parts:

Graham K. Rogers teaches at the Faculty of Engineering, Mahidol University in Thailand. He wrote in the Bangkok Post, Database supplement on IT subjects. For the last seven years of Database he wrote a column on Apple and Macs. He is now continuing that in the Bangkok Post supplement, Life. He can be followed on Twitter (@extensions_th)



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